Science and technology hijacked by woo

I’m an avid reader of science articles, abstracts, studies, and reviews. I tried a free subscription to Singularity Hub for a few weeks last month because it seemed to be a suitable source of articles on both science and technology.

I unsubscribed after being disappointed by aspects of science and technology hijacked almost on a daily basis into the realm of woo. Discovering scientific truths and realizing technologies is inspiring enough to stand on its own. It’s sufficiently interesting to publish well-written articles on the process and results.

I was dismayed that the website didn’t host a feedback mechanism for the authors’ articles. We shield ourselves from information incongruent with our beliefs. It’s a problem when a publisher of science and technology articles similarly disallows non-confirming evidence as a matter of policy.

An article may or may not advance knowledge of the subject, and Singularity Hub enables author hubris in presenting their views as the final word on the subject. Directing readers elsewhere for discussion is self-defeating in that every publisher’s goals include keeping visitors on their website as long as possible.

Here’s my feedback on two articles that inappropriately bent reality.


Regarding What Is It That Makes Humans Unique?:

“This trait [symbolic abstract thinking] not only gives us the ability to communicate symbolically, it also allows us to think symbolically, by allowing us to represent all kinds of symbols (including physical and social relationships) in our minds, independent of their presence in the physical world. As a result, internal associations of novel kinds become possible.”

Why limit discussion of our capability for symbolic representations? Other features to explore are:

  • What is a belief if not a symbolic representation?
  • What attributes of human behavior provide evidence for hopes and beliefs as symbolic representations?
  • What is the evolved functional significance that benefits humans of using symbolic abstract thinking to develop hopes and beliefs?

“Our revolutionary traits stand out even more when we take a cosmic perspective..We are not only in the universe, but the universe is also within us..Our brains, as an extension of the universe, are now being used to understand themselves.”

This article should be written well enough to inspire without resorting to unevidenced assertions about revolutions, the cosmos, and the timing of brain functionality.

“Some of us possess higher consciousness than others. The question that we now have to ask ourselves is, how do we cultivate higher consciousness, structural building, and symbolic abstract thinking among the masses?”

What is the purpose of steering an evolution topic into elitism?


How a Machine That Can Make Anything Would Change Everything received >53,000 views compared with <5,000 views of the above article. This was an indicator that readers of Singularity Hub are relatively more interested in the possible implications of future technology than those of our past biological evolution. Why?

“If nanofabricators are ever built, the systems and structure of the world as we know them were built to solve a problem that will no longer exist.”

Soon we will have the worldwide solution to limits in food supply, energy supply, medicine availability, income, knowledge – all of the elements needed for survival?

I was reminded of the chip-in-the-brain article referenced in Differing approaches to a life wasted on beliefs. Each of us needs to address the impacts of past threats to our survival that include producing our present hopes if we are ever going to individually break out of these self-reinforcing, life-wasting loops.

“Human history will be forever divided in two. We may well be living in the Dark Age before this great dawn. Or it may never happen. But James Burke, just as he did over forty years ago, has faith.”

Is it inspiring that the person mentioned has had a forty-year career of selling beliefs in technology?

Yes, future technologies have promise. Authors can write articles that provide developments without soiling the promise with woo.

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Beyond Belief: The impact of merciless beatings on beliefs

Continuing with Dr. Arthur Janov’s May 2016 book Beyond Belief:

“p. 17 When someone insults us, we immediately create reasons and rationales for it. We cover the pain. Now imagine a whole early childhood of insults and assaults and how that leaves a legacy that must be dealt with.

..The mind of ideas and philosophies doesn’t know it is being used; doesn’t know it serves as a barricade against the danger of feeling..It is why no one can convince the person out of her ideas. They serve a key purpose and should not be tampered with..We are tampering with a survival function.”

“p. 19 It seems like a miracle that something as intangible and invisible as an idea has the power to transform our biologic system. It makes us see what doesn’t exist and sometimes not see what does. What greater power exists than that? To be fooled is not only to convince someone to believe the false, but also to convince others to not believe the truth.

The unloved child who cannot bear the terrible feelings of hopelessness shuts down his own feeling centers and grows insensitive, not only to his pain, but to that of others..So he commits the same error on his child that was visited upon him, and he does so because of the way he was unloved early on. He cannot see his own hopelessness or that of his child.”

“p. 56 ..all defensive beliefs must have a kernel of hope inside of them..it is the embedded hopelessness that gives rise to its opposite – hope – and its accompanying biochemistry of inhibition or gating. To be even more precise, it is the advent of pain surrounding hopelessness that produces the belief entwined with hope..

All defensive belief serves the same function – repression, absorbing the energy of pain.”

“p. 57 An unloved child is a potential future believer.”

“p. 58 ..no one has the answer to life’s questions but you. How you should lead your life depends on you, not outside counsel.

..we do not direct patients, nor dispense wisdom upon them. We have only to put them in touch with themselves; the rest is up to them.

Everything the patient has to learn already resides inside. The patient can make herself conscious. No one else can.”


“p. 29 The personal experience stories throughout the book are written by my patients and, with the exception of a few grammatical corrections, they are presented here exactly as they were given to me.”

All of the Primal Therapy patients’ stories thus far started with horrendous childhoods that resulted in correspondingly strong beliefs.

I came across a public figure example today in 10 Defining Moments In The Childhood Of Martin Luther King Jr. The author included two items germane to an understanding of how beliefs may develop from adverse childhood experiences:

  • 8. King Sr. “..would beat Martin and his brother, Alfred, senseless for any infraction, usually with a belt.”
  • 6. “By the time King was 13, he’d tried to kill himself twice.”

Every reference I found tied King Jr.’s suicide attempts to his grandmother’s death, and not to King Sr.’s beatings or other preteen experiences.

Granted that it’s only the patient who can put together what happened in their lives so that it’s therapeutic. Beyond Belief and Dr. Janov’s other publications outline the framework.

On Primal Therapy with Drs. Art and France Janov

Experiential feeling therapy addressing the pain of the lack of love.

Outward expressions of inner truth

“Truth needs no defense except when that truth is more than the system can integrate; then it requires defenses.

Our merciful brain has found back-up ways to protect us. It keeps the truth from us even when we go on searching for the truth.

After patients have deep feelings they come up with many truths about their lives. It is buried and defended along with the pain. Thus no one has to give anyone insights; they are already there just waiting for the exit.”

http://cigognenews.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-act-out-and-more_29.html “The Act-out and More”

What was not, is not, and will never be

Neuroskeptic’s blog post Genetic Testing for Autism as an Existential Question related the story of “A Sister, a Father and a Son: Autism, Genetic Testing, and Impossible Decisions.”

“I decided to put the question to my sister, Maria. Although she is autistic, she is of high intelligence.

Maria was excited to be an aunt soon, and was willing to do what she could to help my baby – even if what she was helping with was to avoid her own condition.

She is high enough functioning to know some of what she’s missing in life, and has longed her entire life to be “normal.” If she could save her niece or nephew some of the pain and awkwardness her condition had caused her, she was willing to help.”

In the concluding paragraph:

“What struck me about this story is the way in which the prospect of the genetic test confronted Maria with a very personal decision: will you do something that might help prevent someone else becoming like you?

Isn’t this very close to the ultimate existential question: all things considered, would you wish to live your life over again?”


Aren’t the majority of humans also “high enough functioning to know some of what she’s missing in life?”

Aren’t our feelings of what we’re missing one of the impetuses for us to have also “longed her entire life to be normal?”

This feeling was aired in Dr. Arthur Janov’s blog post What a Waste:

“What it was, was the feeling of great loss, something missing that could never again be duplicated.

It was no love where it could have been the opposite if the parent’s gates could have been open. But it could not be because that would have meant terrible pain and suffering for them; and their whole neurologic system militated against any conscious-awareness.”


We long for what was and is impossible:

  • For many of us, the impossibilities of having normal lives started with prenatal epigenetic changes.
  • Our experiences of our postnatal environment prompted us into adapting to its people, places, and contents. These neurological, biological, and behavioral adaptations were sometimes long-lasting deviations from developmental norms.
  • Other genetic factors combined with the above to largely make us who we were and are.

Our longing for an impossible-to-reconstruct life doesn’t go away.

We often may not be aware of our longing for what “could not be” and of its extensive impacts. More often, such feelings impel us into so many thousands of ideas, beliefs, and behaviors, a sample of which were referred to above:

  • Behaviors to “do something that might help prevent someone else becoming like you”
  • Ideas such as existential philosophy
  • Beliefs that manifest the “wish to live your life over again.”

The problem is that spending our time and efforts on these ideas, beliefs, and behaviors won’t ameliorate their motivating causes. Our efforts only push us further away from our truths, with real consequences: a wasted life.

What keeps an individual from understanding their reality? I invite readers to investigate Dr. Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy for effective therapeutic approaches.

A problematic study of testosterone’s influence on behavior and brain measurements

This 2015 US/Canadian human study of people ages 6 to 22 years found:

“Testosterone-specific associations between amygdala volume and key prefrontal areas involved in emotional regulation and impulse control:

  1. Testosterone-specific modulation of the covariance between the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC);
  2. A significant relationship between amygdala-mPFC covariance and levels of aggression; and
  3. Mediation effects of amygdala-mPFC covariance on the relationship between testosterone and aggression.

These effects were independent of sex, age, pubertal stage, estradiol levels and anxious-depressed symptoms.

For the great majority of individuals in this sample, higher thickness of the mPFC was associated with lower aggression levels at a given amygdala volume..this effect diminished greatly and disappeared at more extreme amygdala values.”

The study provided noncausal associations among the effects (behavioral, hormonal, and brain measurements).


From the Limitations section:

“No umbilical cord or amniotic measurements were available in this study and we therefore cannot control for testosterone levels in utero, a period during which significant testosterone-related changes in brain structure are thought to occur.”

There’s evidence that too much testosterone for a female fetus and too little testosterone for a male fetus both have lifelong adverse effects. The researchers dismissed this etiologic line of inquiry with a “supporting the notion” referral to noncausal studies.


The researchers were keen to establish:

“A very specific, aggression-related structural brain phenotype.”

This putative phenotype hinged on:

  • Older subjects’ behavioral self-reports, and
  • Parental assessments of younger subjects’ behavior

exhibited during the previous six months, and within six months of their fMRI scan.

These self-reports and interested-party observations were the entire bases for the “aggressive behavior” and “anxious–depressed” associations. The researchers provided multiple references and models for the reliability of these assessments.


Experimental behavioral measurements – such as those done to measure performance in decision studies – may have been more accurate and informative than what the older subjects chose to self-report about their own behavior over the previous six months.

People of all ages have an imperative to NOT be completely honest about their own behavior. One motivation for this condition is that some of our historical realities are too painful to enter our conscious awareness and inform us about our own behavior. As a result, our feelings, thoughts, and behavior are sometimes driven by our histories without us being aware of it.

For example, would a teenager/young adult subject self-report an impulsive act, even if they didn’t fully understand why they acted that way? Maybe they would if the act could be viewed as prosocial, but what if it was antisocial?

What are the chances that the lives of these teenager/young adult subjects were NOT filled with impulsive actions during the six months before their fMRI scans? Could complete and accurate self-reports of such behaviors be expected?

Experimental behavioral measurements may have also been more accurate and informative than second-hand, interested-party observations of the younger subjects. Could someone who provided half of the genes and who was responsible for many of their child’s epigenetic changes make anything other than subjective observations of their handiwork’s behavior?


Epigenetic studies have shown that adaptations to environments are among the long-lasting causes for effects that include behavior, hormones, and brain measurements. Why, in 2015, did researchers spend public funds developing what they knew or should have known would be noncausal associations, while not investigating possible causes for these effects?

Why weren’t the researchers interested enough to gather and assess etiologic genetic and epigenetic evidence? Was it that difficult to get blood samples at the same time the subjects gave saliva samples, and perform selected genetic and DNA methylation analyses?

What did the study contribute towards advancing science? Who did the study really help?

http://www.psyneuen-journal.com/article/S0306-4530%2815%2900924-5/fulltext “A testosterone-related structural brain phenotype predicts aggressive behavior from childhood to adulthood”

Is the purpose of research to define opportunities for interventions?

In this 2014 review, a social scientist first presented an interpretive history of what he found to be important in the emergence of epigenetics. He proceeded into his view of “a possible agenda of the social studies of the life-sciences” in the “postgenomic age” with headings such as “Postgenomic biopolitics: “upgrade yourself” or born damaged for ever?”

This view included:

“The upgradable epigenome may become the basis for a new motivation to intervene, control and improve it through pharmacological agents or social interventions.

An important trend is the use of epigenetic and developmental findings in the so-called early-intervention programmes.

It is possible that epigenetic findings will become increasingly relevant in social policy strategies.”


I work in Washington DC, a town that’s a magnet for people who want to exercise control over other people’s lives. Interventions in various forms are something I see and hear about every day.

In this blog I often highlight research that may help us understand details of how each of us is a unique individual. It’s my view that insofar as research helps each of us understand our unique, real self, we may be able to empathetically understand others’ unique qualities.

A clinical study is typically designed to test within defined parameters whether a specific intervention will be effective. This approach may be counterproductive, though, when assessing epigenetic factors in “social studies of the life-sciences” as a vehicle to promote opportunities for interventions into others’ lives.

Click “individual differences” to see a sample of how researchers explain them away in order to converge on the study’s desired objective. The researchers seldom attempt to further understand what caused each subject to develop their unique qualities.


Why would a person employed in the social sciences, their funders, and someone employed or involved in social services intentionally disregard another individual’s unique qualities? This reflexive action derives from a person being unable to face the facts of their own life.

Several relevant fundamentals of Dr Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy are:

  1. Pain motivates a person’s unconscious act outs of their underlying problems.
  2. The behavior that caused a problem is sometimes also the act-out behavior.
  3. Act outs enable a person to re-experience the feelings of their historical struggles, in a vain attempt to resolve them.
  4. Due to pain barriers, people seldom become consciously aware of and – more importantly – address the causes for their problematic behavior.
  5. “The patient has the power to heal himself.”

A consequent hypothesis is that a person will often glorify their unconscious behavior and surround themself with justifications for it. For example, a person who can’t sit still may refer to their incessant activity with socially acceptable phrases such as “I’m always busy” or “I love to travel.” They’ll structure their life to enable their unconscious act outs, never questioning how they were attracted to an always-on-the-go occupation such as flight attendant, only vaguely feeling that they were made for it.

The behavior relevant to the current review may be exhibited by a person with a history of having no control over their own life. Following the above first two fundamentals, the pain of historically not having control over their life may motivate them to control other people’s lives.

Unfortunately for everyone who’s affected, such unconscious behavior doesn’t resolve anything:

  • The initiator may achieve some symbolic satisfaction by controlling others’ lives.
  • The temporary satisfaction doesn’t make the initiator’s underlying problems less painful.
  • The motivation driving their unconscious act outs isn’t thereby reduced.
  • The initiator repeats their controlling behavior, stuck in a loop of unresolved feelings.
  • Since the self-chosen interests of someone who’s being controlled are lesser concerns to the initiator than exercising control, the controlled person may or may not be helped by the controller’s act outs.

Research provides abundant evidence that we are unique individuals. It’s a strong indicator of who is best qualified to figure out what to do with each of our unique lives.

A person who’s driven to control others’ lives usually won’t accept research into epigenetics as instructive for understanding themself as an individual. They’ll unconsciously use research as a way to enable their act outs, and as such, view it as offering opportunities for interventions into the lives of others.

So “pharmacological agents or social interventions” are often the intended “use of epigenetic and developmental findings.” Interventions receive justifications with “a possible agenda of the social studies of the life-sciences.”

Becoming aware of one’s own act outs, and then individually addressing one’s own underlying problems, often take backseats to employment and other concerns to keep enabling one’s own behavior. That makes it likely that interventions justified by “epigenetic findings..in social policy” will continue, regardless of whether the subjects agree that they’re being helped.

For examples, take a look at a few of the presentations by people employed in the social sciences and social services on a topic of epigenetics. Compare them with the topic’s update to the current state of epigenetic research in Grokking an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) score.

What did you notice? How many presentations emphasized disrupted prenatal development, a period when problems can be prevented? Did you instead see that many more of the presentations emphasized controlling behavior?

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00309/full “The social brain meets the reactive genome: neuroscience, epigenetics and the new social biology”